Hide scoffs at blackmail claim

MICHAEL FOX AND HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 16:13 14/08/2014
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jordan williams
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
'UTTERLY FALSE': "...To make the allegation that it was used as a tool to usher Rodney to the exit is an outrageous claim," Jordan Williams said.

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Former ACT party leader Rodney Hide says he 'laughed out loud' over allegations he was blackmailed into standing down as leader of the ACT Party.

Jordan Williams, the Wellington lobbyist who features heavily in Nicky Hager's latest book, also says the suggestion is "utterly false".

In his book Dirty Politics, Hager claims that Williams was part of a campaign to pressure Hide to stand down, including claims that he was blackmailed into resigning over him sending "inappropriate text messages to a young woman".

The book published an exchange between Simon Lusk, a political strategist previously aligned with the National Party, and WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

Lusk to Slater: "Cam we an f... up rodney. ...Jordan is talking to a girl that Rodney has been sending dodgy texts to."

Slater: "Get the texts....I can get them to Jonathan Jarshall. Just the sort of grubby shit he would be into."

"Trying. Problem is that Jordan needs to get them first, probably Wednesday night, but at the same time we can use this to our advantage."

Slater: "Drop them hard this Fri. No coming back from that."

Hide said he "laughed out loud" when he read the allegations and referred to Lusk and Slater's conversations as "two guys who email each other sort of like they're standing around in the pub talking bullshit..."

"The first I heard of this was when the news rang me ... last night," Hide told RadioLive.

He maintained he stepped down because he was challenged by former ACT leader Don Brash.

"I don't know Simon Lusk, I've never met him I've never heard of him, and I can't speak to what Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater email each other about because I've never seen that," he said.

"But the allegation specifically is that I was blackmailed over texts to stand down, that's not true."

He said if he had been blackmailed, "I wouldn't have left because I would have said I'm not going and my next phone call is to the police".

"Any blackmail against anyone, particularly an MP, particularly a minister of the Crown, particularly the leader of a political party, the police would be all over them."

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The accusations would have been at the lower end of allegations levelled at him during his career, he said.

He had not read the Whale Oil post which hinted at the texts, he said.

Hide questioned why Hager never contacted him to ask whether it was true.

"I would've said it's not true."

He denied the texts existed and said he would not be taking legal action.

'OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM'

Initially Williams declined to comment this morning. However, after speaking to Hide and Brash, who replaced Hide as ACT leader and who was client of Williams', he dismissed the suggestions.

"On that Rodney [Hide] one, utterly false. I was aware of that particular rumour going around about Rodney at the time, and to make the allegation that it was used as a tool to usher Rodney to the exit is an outrageous claim," Williams said.

"To suggest that a lawyer would use rumour for blackmail is absolutely outrageous. The comments that are there that Simon [Lusk]'s told Cam[eron Slater], well that's his problem but it is frankly a well over-egged version of the truth," Williams said.

"I'm absolutely furious. It is utterly, utterly false. For a moment to suggest that I or Don [Brash] would, would think that it is fair cop to use that against someone is just disgusting."

Williams said questions over whether he would take legal action were a question for his former client.

"That would be up to Don [Brash], not me. I was acting for Don at the time, as his lawyer, it's probably more a reflection on him than it is on me, but what I'm saying is that allegation is absolutely wrong. And Rodney [Hide] will tell you that blackmail was never used against him."

Williams said he and Slater communicated frequently. "I talk to him every day," Williams said, with Hager's book reflecting three exchanges over the last four years.

He dismissed suggestions that the Taxpayers' Union, at which he is now the executive director, worked in concert with WhaleOil. Slater had not liked the idea and had "poisoned" the idea of it to people Williams planned to seek money from, he said.

Williams said the union was also the reason he had "fallen out" with Simon Lusk. The pair had spoken three times in 12 months "whereas previously we used to speak every day", Williams said.

"The Taxpayers' Union is David [Farrar] and my baby. I think everyone know that."

- Stuff

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